The life of a songwriter is full of a seemingly endless array of tasks that extend well beyond the act of writing songs. While there are a lot of things songwriters can – and should – be doing to get ahead in their careers, sometimes it can be a relief to know that we don’t have to do it all. I’ve put together some compelling reasons why we, as songwriters, should remember to delegate.

Songwriters don't have to do it all

1. There are only so many hours in a day

If you don’t have the luxury of writing songs full time, or even if you do, there is a limited amount of time each day that you can devote to your craft. The key is taking full advantage of that time by doing the things that you’re best at. Diluting your available time with distracting tasks that could be better taken care of by someone with more experience/expertise isn’t a solid business decision.

2. Sometimes doing it all yourself means doing a lot of things at a mediocre level

It can be tempting to try and take care of everything on your own for a variety of reasons including being a control freak – like yours truly – or thinking it will save you money. The danger in this approach is that you might not have the expertise in every area and while you might be able to get by doing everything, nothing you do will really shine. The expression “Jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind here.

3. Only you can write your songs but there are experts for everything else

There are certain non-negotiable items on the to do lists of all songwriters. First and foremost would be writing your songs. This is something no one else can do for you. I also believe that relying solely on someone else to pitch your songs is a mistake as experience has taught me that no one will ever care about your songs more than you will. However, there are many other tasks that experts have spent considerable time and resources learning. The one that comes to mind immediately is recording your demos. It can be tempting to think that buying recording equipment will save you money but what most novice engineers forget is that recording is a skill that requires the same dedication to your craft that songwriting does. If this isn’t something you’re passionate about, you’ll end up spending a lot of time and money on something that will still yield a sub par result. If recording isn’t your thing, go to the experts. There are many.

Songwriters don't have to do it all

4. Working on what you love keeps you motivated

Staying motivated to get up every day and make a go of a career in songwriting is challenging under the best of circumstances. It becomes even more difficult if you find yourself overwhelmed by tasks that you don’t care for and have no interest in doing. While there will always be a certain amount of unromantic work involved in a songwriting career that we have to do ourselves, the more of that work you can delegate the more enjoyable your time will be and the more enthusiastically you’ll approach your job.


The elephant in the room here is, of course, the money it takes to offload some of the work by hiring someone else. This is where being creative in your approach will yield the greatest dividends. Since you’ll be able to devote your time to what you’re best at, think about barter arrangements with those who can help you out with their particular expertise. Your effectiveness is the key here. Working smarter not harder is something worth keeping in mind at all times.

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7 responses to “Four Essential Reasons Songwriters Don’t Have to Do it All”

  1. April c says:

    So I barter with a recording company… Hows that work??? Missed the webnar.. Bummer

  2. Jack Sherouse says:

    Is there anyone who would be interested in “lyrics only?”

  3. Brian says:

    What sort of arrangements, short and long term, are possible in working with a recording studio, such as yours, that allows for conserving money? It otherwise seems like an expensive proposition given that the studio work will be required periodically if not on an ongoing basis. Can you please be specific? Thanks!

    • Hi Brian. Thanks for reaching out! As far as arrangements with studios, there are certain fixed costs (e.g. studio time, players fees, engineering fees) that aren’t really open to change but I have found that doing more than one song in a session will cut down on the set up/break down costs in the studio and that can help a songwriter economize. Also, I’ve always felt that unless there’s a compelling reason for doing otherwise, songwriters should keep their demos scaled down to a single instrument – either guitar or piano – and a vocal with vocal harmonies. As long as this recording is done by experienced professionals, you’ll have multiple pitch options without having to invest in a full band recording of every song you demo. To your exact point, demos are not inexpensive no matter what but they are an essential cost of doing business if you’re hoping to generate income with your songs.

  4. Amy K says:

    Cliff, did you choose the hand-hands graphic before Stay-At-Home? That’s two minutes of hand washing!

  5. Wendell Jackson says:

    Great advice.

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